Press Advisories

9. 3. 20099:40

Debate: Women and politics

Women's Day: Europe keeps women's empowerment high on its global agenda.


Is there a difference of style between men and women in political decision-making ?

Are women under-represented in European and national politics?

How can gender equality be improved at the European, national, regional and local level ? How do you see the situation in your country?

How can we encourage more people to vote ?

A recently published study shows that, despite a general increase in the number of women in decision-making positions in Europe, power still lies firmly in the hands of men, whether in politics or business; public or private sphere.

The current European Parliament comprises of 31% women and 69% men. The situation is even worse in national parliaments across the EU, with less than one in four members being a woman. The European Commission is currently its best ever in terms of gender balance - 17 men and 10 women - but some countries have never nominated a female Commissioner. The world of business is even worse: across Europe only 3% of the largest companies are led by a woman!

A recent poll (Flash Eurobarometer- Women and European Parliamentary Elections) shows that a large majority of women and men agree that men dominate politics and that women can bring a different perspective. Women want to be better represented in the European Parliament.

A strong and representative democracy is based on full inclusion of the people it represents. If women are absent from the negotiating tables, how could we ensure that the different interests of European women are met?

2009 will be an important year for politics and women in Europe. Within a few months a new European Parliament will be elected, a new European Commission will be appointed, and various high-profile posts will need to be filled across the EU institutions if the Treaty of Lisbon enters into force. These are some excellent opportunities for EU leaders and citizens to show that they are interested and serious about gender equality.

Should we impose legal quotas to increase the presence of women in European politics, or should we wait until this balance is achieved naturally? How can we get more women into the European institutions, and to engage more women to vote in elections?

What do YOU think? Take a few minutes to think about how you feel on the issues, read up on the web, and engage in the debate.

During the next 3 weeks we want your views on women and politics. I will react to your opinions after the 25 March.

Margot Wallström, Vice-President of the European Commission, in charge of Institutional Relations and Communication Strategy